Marie Kondo has caught a wave, coursing across international boundaries. Her techniques for de-cluttering have touched a nerve in the United States. A billion-dollar personal storage industry is but one manifestation of the pack rat tendency that has crept up on the world’s wealthiest nation.
As with the rising focus on obesity and healthful living in the Western world, the enthusiasm for minimization has spiritual aspects. As in environmental matters, it relates to limiting one’s footprint on the stressed planet. In an ever more crowded planet–nearing 8 billion people–culturally transmitted individual decisions can have rapid, enduring consequences. How one makes such decisions is a question of values.
Who Are You Serving?
Kondo’s mantra for de-cluttering is compelling. She would have one bring an item close, asking: Does this spark joy?
Taking the Serve to Lead approach, I’ve attacked the accretion of unnecessary possessions with another set of questions:
—Who am I serving in possessing this item? If it’s only serving me, it faces strict scrutiny.
—How does it enable me to serve others? If an item enables me to serve others, it’s more likely to remain.
—Would this item better serve someone else? If an item is of limited utility to me, but could be vital for someone else, it’s on the way to its best use.
In this way, I’ve been able to break the previously unexamined ties that held me back from circulating items such as books or gifts from loved ones and friends.
Spirituality Unites Service and Joy
As Kahlil Gibran expressed, “service is joy.” Servant leaders can find joy through effective service. De-cluttering–of one’s possessions, of one’s working environment, of one’s mind and ideas–can advance one’s service while creating joy.